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any studies on private education value for money?

(157 Posts)
beforesunrise Mon 23-Feb-09 14:19:41

I know there's all the statistics about the % of people in power etc coming from private schools (actually btw can anyone like some actual studies, as I keep seeing references but I'd like to read the source material). But i was wondering if there are any studies showing the return on schooling investment, ie the salary differential of private school educated people vs state educated. I know such studies exist in America, anything here in the UK?

thanks in advance

Lilymaid Mon 23-Feb-09 14:25:11

Have a look at a few of the reports produced for the Sutton Trust.

bloss Mon 23-Feb-09 14:30:07

Message withdrawn

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Mon 23-Feb-09 14:32:08

I find it really sad that 'value for money' is equated to salary differential, and so see as just a monetary retun on investment hmm. I couldn't care less what the financial outocme is for my children - just that they are in a learning environment which best suits their needs, so that they can enjoy their childhood - don't see how you can measure that financially.

beforesunrise Mon 23-Feb-09 14:33:14

thanks. will read with interest!

beforesunrise Mon 23-Feb-09 14:38:54

i knew i was going to get that sort of reply!

I don't think wanting to find out about something like this automatically means I don't value the emotional and social implications of education- I value them immensely.

but before I commit to paying 12k per year per child for 12 years I want to at least know what I am buying, on a tangible level. I don't think that's weird. to my family, that's a lot of money!

I keep hearing and reading about this advantage that private schooling buys you, and I like to see facts and figures if available. Interesting as though MN is, I would be foolish to base my decisions solely on the experiences of a handful of strangers- no disrespect whatsoever is intended, so please do not start a storm in teacup

MollieO Mon 23-Feb-09 19:38:48

I know plenty of thick privately educated people and I know plenty of bright state educated people. I think it is a very odd notion to consider value for money when educating your dc. Does that mean if they don't achieve whatever standard you will change schools until they do? How do you meaaure the benefit whilst they are at school? You won't know until they are earning a living whether or not your financial investment worked and by then it will be too late.

Assuming that your dcs aren't going to spend 12 years at secondary school you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that pre-prep and prep are considerably cheaper. Also 12k seem to be the minimum for secondary and goes up to about 15k for day and obviously a lot more for boarding.

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Mon 23-Feb-09 19:46:23

Also, it entirely depends on where you live and the personalities of your child - which raw statisitics won't help you with. There is no 'typical' state or independent school - they are all different, as are children...If you live in an areas with good state schools that are sutiable for your child, you can congratulate yourself on your good luck, and save the dosh. |If your child has needs that will not be catered for by the schools available to you free (at the point of use grin) then you might look at independent schools ..... but they also vary in quality and suitability for YOUR children - so I really don't think 'studies' will actually provide very useful input - better to talk to local parents about their choices, look at the schools within a reasonable distance and work from there. On MN you will find trenchant die-hards for both state and independent, but I would ignore both categories and look at what is available where you are.

missmem Mon 23-Feb-09 20:12:14


It seems you can't have an intelligent conversation without some idiot taking it out of context or judging you! I too would like to understand this statistic for the same reason. That doesn't mean I'm going to force DC to be lawyers or doctors if they would rather be farmers but it too may help in our decision process!

I'm bracing myself for the backlash! hmm

beforesunrise Mon 23-Feb-09 20:15:40


i am pursuing all options and am still open minded at this stage, with a small preference for a (good) state or VA aided.

i agree that talking to people and looking at the schools is important, and i am doing it. i have visited most schools than anyone i know, and i am positively stalkerish in my approach to parents of school age kids

but studies are also important, because they quantify the advantage that indep schools offer. i really don't think it's so odd to look into it.

MollieO- i have looked into preps and pre-preps, and have been rather horrified, actually. About 3/3.5k per term per child, plus all the extras. That's why I want to know whether this money is going to make a significant difference to my children's future career- the emotional and spiritual side of things i have a better grasp of from visiting the schools etc.

Hulababy Mon 23-Feb-09 20:16:11

Depends how you would judge "value for money" I guess.

I am sure there will be statistics out there. How useful they are and how true a reflection on all independent schools is another thing entirly! Independent schools vary greatly in their types. Some are highly selective and some are not se;ective or academic at all.

If future jobs is really important for you have a look at the past student's information. Most schools have this kind of information and will know how many go onto university, etc. and what courses, and many will even know what their students finally end up doing after HE.

beforesunrise Mon 23-Feb-09 20:18:25

missmen- i don't feel judged.

i have learned the hard way that talking about private schools on MN, even in the most generic and objective terms possible, is fraught with difficulties and that you need a very thick skin to approach the subject. i am not going there anymore- far better the relative safety of academic reports!!!

scrooged Mon 23-Feb-09 20:23:26

I was talking to the lady next door, she has friends who went to a top public school, one now works at ASDA, the other one's in prison (again). It can be difficult to measure the value for money aspect as we don't know what our children will grow to become. Personally, I'm looking for a school that will stretch my son and help him socially. I have not foun one yet. They all talk the talk but when it comes down to it, they all think it's OK for ds to work at the top of his year rather then the level he really needs.

fivecandles Mon 23-Feb-09 20:26:16

Exam results is one fairly obvious and easily accessible measure of success?! What universities they progress to may also be helpful. Beyond that it's difficult to see how far the school is responsible for what students make of their lives.

scrooged Mon 23-Feb-09 20:29:06

No, the top ones can choose which children to sit the exams so they are unaccurate. A private school doesn't necessarily mean bright children either, if the parents can pay..... This doesn't make a good measure IMO.

missmem Mon 23-Feb-09 20:44:32

A top public school and is working at ASDA and ones in prison - eek! It wasn't Christ's Hospital, was it? wink

scrooged Mon 23-Feb-09 20:46:39

No. Repton smile

MollieO Mon 23-Feb-09 20:50:42

If you are looking at £3/3.5 for pre-prep then you'll be looking at significantly more than 12k for 13+. It is hard to look at independent schools and get a measure of what they will do with your child in an abstract sense. They don't have value added scores like the state system. It is very much down to picking the individual school for your child. They vary enormously in what they offer. You may spend the maximum but if the school isn't right for your dc then it is a waste of money, hence the statistics are generally pretty meaningless.

When I did the rounds I looked at the schools specifically on what they could offer relevant to my dc's strengths and weaknesses and chose accordingly. It is all about maximising potential, whatever that may be. Exam results really don't give you an indication of that. If you look at the state system some of the top academic schools have pretty low value added scores, ie they have done little to improve upon the intake they have. Fine if your dcs are very academic, not fine if they aren't.

MollieO Mon 23-Feb-09 20:52:29

Should add that I'm a City lawyer wishing I'd become a riding teacher!

Lilymaid Mon 23-Feb-09 20:56:34

Would you consider that it was value for money if your DC did well academically, went to a good university, did post graduate studies, qualifed as a professional and was a leading light in his/her field, but because of his/her profession only earned £50k per year rather than £500k?

MollieO Mon 23-Feb-09 21:03:32

Lilymaid excellent point. It isn't all about money. I think the most important thing you can do for your dc is ensure that they education they receive inspires them.

MollieO Mon 23-Feb-09 21:04:27

the education they receive....

beforesunrise Mon 23-Feb-09 21:22:38

slightly bemused at the turn this has taken. I only answered a question- and now i am being told it's the wrong question. mind you, i accept it's not the only question, but a valid one nonetheless, when taken in conjunction with all the other ones you raise (and some more). Lilymaid pointed me in the direction of the kind of report I was looking for, for which warm thanks. it is not going to make or break my decision, but it is still more valid as an input than "so and so went to private and is now working at ASDA (sorry)". I mean prince Harry went to Eton, and look what a cultivated, well rounded individual he's come out of it! (i have had colleagues who went to Eton and have been distinctly unimpressed with their intellectual calibre, but boy do they compensate with the size of their egos and the loudness of their plummy voices! not generalising though- i have also had colleagues from top private schools who were amazingly bright and knowledgeable and just generally great)

tbh i find the whole private education system bemusing itself. schools are not accountable to anyone. they have different systems, different classifications, different tests, which means they are impossible to compare. it's like a secret society, of which i am not a member, and so clearly i do need to find all the facts...

I have visited the schools, believe me I have. about 10 so far. you can get a vibe, but there is no guarantee that you actually get the truth. plus, i may be thick, but i really can't tell what my dd's strengths and weaknesses are- she's only 3 ffs, i know she can draw "interesting" abstract pictures, climb very fast, and that she can tantrum for England, but what kind of school would suit her? at this stage it's more a matter of what kind of school would suit me...

there. i've done it. i had promised i wouldn't get drawn into the debate....

scrooged Mon 23-Feb-09 21:25:27

Be careful of them. Alot will tell you what you want to hear, not necessarily what's true. They want your child and the income she represents. Few schools are in this for the sake of the children.

Hulababy Mon 23-Feb-09 21:25:33

Private schools do have an inspection body and regular reports, which are availble to read.

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